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What Does a Black Box Do?

Grimes & Fertitta > Personal Injury  > Vehicle Accidents  > What Does a Black Box Do?

What Does a Black Box Do?

What Does a Black Box Do?

In the event that you will ever be involved in an accident investigation, it can be useful to understand “What does a black box do?” A black box, or “event data” recorder, is a small device installed in newer vehicles that records data from crashes in cars, trucks, big rigs, and aircrafts. Black boxes are only capable of recording when the vehicle is turned on.

Top personal injury attorneys at Grimes & Fertitta are here to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding black boxes, what they record, and how they can impact your accident case.

What data does a black box record?

A black box can record the following vital pieces of data:

  • Speed
  • Break activity
  • Seatbelt use
  • Evasive activity 
  • Steering angles 
  • Force of impact

Having this data on hand is important for a few reasons. First, if you are injured in a car accident and cannot recall the specificities of the crash, the data is all in the black box. Second, if a victim of a car accident dies, the black box would be able to help attorneys paint a picture of what happened. Lastly, it’s hard to disregard black box data in court. The hard data can work in your favor if you have an opposing party who is trying to paint a different picture. 

FAQs about black boxes

Q: Can a black box tell if you crash?

Yes. A black box can sense a sudden change in velocity that triggers the recording. 

Q: How long does a black box hold information?

In non-deployment crashes –– meaning the impact was not intense enough to deploy the airbag –– the black box is triggered to record and provide information for up to 20 seconds before the accident. From there, the data will be stored for approximately 3 to 4 weeks of normal driving activities. In this case, the data will likely begin erasing data after this time period.

In deployment crashes where the airbags are deployed, the information is stored indefinitely and is available in the airbag control module (ACM). 

Q: How do you access the data from a black box?

A special data retrieval toolkit is required to access the black box. Accident investigation specialists have the knowledge and expertise to retrieve the black box from the vehicle.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, downloading information from a vehicle’s black box is prohibited in Texas UNLESS you:

  • Have the owner’s consent 
  • Received a court order 
  • Are diagnosing, servicing, or repairing the vehicle
  • Are conducting vehicle safety research

From there, a specialist with the right training (likely a reconstruction expert) can download and interpret the black box data needed for the investigation. 

Q: Can a black box be destroyed?

Because black boxes are meant to survive crashes, they are very difficult to destroy. The black box’s circuit board is housed in an aluminum box, wrapped in a one-inch layer of insulation, and encased in titanium or steel. Black boxes are very resilient to force, weather, and other elements. 

What can an attorney do with black box information?

As mentioned in our article What to do when you get in a car accident, evidence is key for a successful personal injury claim –– and the black box is an important piece of evidence in auto accident investigations. Before black boxes, reconstruction experts would examine skid marks, the roadway, and crush measurements at the scene of the accident to determine what happened.

Because all newer vehicles have black boxes installed, accident attorneys can use their client’s vehicle’s black box to see data on the accident and use that to build their case. If the other party’s attorney or insurance company tries to tell a different story of the happenings of the accident, the data is there to say it all. An attorney will help you build your case, gather evidence, and help you to get the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries.

If you are injured in an accident, contact an attorney as soon as possible. A Houston 18 wheeler accident lawyer or a drunk driving accident lawyer in Houston from Grimes & Fertitta are here to help you.

Keep reading: When to get an attorney for a car accident

Grimes & Fertitta: Attorneys with auto accident data expertise.

Now that we have covered “What does a black box do?”, we hope that you feel more prepared in case an accident were to happen. The best car accident attorney in Houston will use evidence like a black box to help aid your personal injury case. The experienced attorneys at Grimes & Fertitta fight hard so that the party responsible for your injuries is held accountable.

For top-tier representation, request a consultation via our online form or give us a call at 713-804-8596 today. 

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